50 best season finales in TV history

Published 4:00 pm Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Home Box Office (HBO)

50 best season finales in TV history

In television series, the finale often brings the most important, memorable moments with the power to taint the legacy of a show or gain more of a following. Finales are a way to track the progress of a character—or in some cases to say goodbye—and a chance to see the end result of a weekslong storyline. Wrapping up complex seasons in a way that does justice to their characters and lengthy plots can be difficult. When done well, finales can be a rewarding climax that offers a cathartic end.

Final episodes come in many forms. They can hinge on a major reveal, like at the end of “Succession” season two, or a cliffhanger, such as the season four finale of “Supernatural.” Perhaps even more importantly, the good or bad buzz surrounding finales can ultimately convince potential viewers to begin or skip a TV series that is dominating the current pop culture conversation. But how can audiences determine which finales, and by extension, shows, are most worth their time?

To find the best TV finales, Stacker compiled data on every TV finale with more than 750 votes on IMDb, then ranked them according to IMDb user score. Ties were broken by the number of votes, and miniseries and documentary series were not included. However, midseason premieres that were followed by large gaps in their air date, such as “Mad Men” season seven, were included.

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The data, as of November 2022, includes 50 episodes from 40 different television shows. So sit back, grab a refreshment and some popcorn, and read on to see if your favorite season ending made the list. Beginning at #50 and counting down to #1, here are the best TV finales of all time.

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A man in a black suit and a woman in a white dress, coat and hat stand together in the woods holding hands with two others watching them.

ABC Studios

#50. Once Upon a Time – ‘There’s No Place Like Home’

– IMDb user rating: 9.4
– Season 3, episode 22
– Air date: May 11, 2014
– Director: Ralph Hemecker

The season three finale of “Once Upon a Time” follows Emma, played by Jennifer Morrison, and Hook, played by Colin O’Donoghue, as they are pulled into the evil sorceress Zelena’s time portal and are trapped in the magical Enchanted Forest of the past. While navigating back to the present, the pair must be careful not to alter anything around them, or they could permanently affect their loved one’s lives. Notably, this episode introduces the character of Elsa to the show.

A man holds a woman's hand next to another woman.

Berlanti Productions

#49. Arrow – ‘Fadeout’

– IMDb user rating: 9.4
– Season 8, episode 10
– Air date: Jan. 28, 2020
– Director: James Bamford

“Fadeout,” the series finale of “Arrow,” unfolds in two different timelines. In one, Oliver Queen/Arrow, played by Stephen Amell, apprehends a human trafficker in 2012. In another timeline set in the present, the remaining members of Team Arrow rescue Oliver’s son William from the same trafficker.

Four worried looking men stand on a stage, one presenting with a piece of paper.

3 Arts Entertainment

#48. Silicon Valley – ‘Optimal Tip-To-Tip Efficiency’

– IMDb user rating: 9.4
– Season 1, episode 8
– Air date: June 1, 2014
– Director: Mike Judge

At the end of “Silicon Valley” season one, programmer Richard Hendrick, played by Thomas Middleditch, and his startup, Pied Piper, scramble to create a product to present to investors after their competitor copies Pied Piper’s cloud storage technology at the last minute. The episode garnered a nomination for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series at the 66th Emmy Awards.

James Gandolfini, Tony Sirico and Steven Van Zandt stand behind a bar holding guns.

Chase Films

#47. The Sopranos – ‘Funhouse’

– IMDb user rating: 9.4
– Season 2, episode 13
– Air date: April 9, 2000
– Director: John Patterson

In “Funhouse,” James Gandolfini’s mob man character, Tony Soprano, makes the complicated decision to kill Salvatore Bonpensiero (Big P.), played by Vincent Pastore, after realizing that his close childhood friend is a double agent for the government. The episode was nominated for an Emmy in the category of Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series.

A man in a bullet proof vest holding a red axe down at the ground fights with a man in a trench coat.

Mutant Enemy

#46. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – ‘S.O.S.: Part 2’

– IMDb user rating: 9.4
– Season 2, episode 22
– Air date: May 12, 2015
– Director: Billy Gierhart

In the second half of the “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” season two finale, Phil Coulson and his team fight to bring S.H.I.E.L.D. operative Skye back after a race of altered, superhuman people called the Inhumans take her prisoner. The Inhumans plan to use terrigen crystals in order to suddenly reveal all the Inhumans on Earth, and kill all ordinary humans around them.

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A priest smiling with his eyes changed to a blurry yellow.

Warner Bros. Television

#45. Supernatural – ‘Lucifer Rising’

– IMDb user rating: 9.4
– Season 4, episode 22
– Air date: May 14, 2009
– Director: Eric Kripke

The apocalypse looms in the season four finale of “Supernatural” as Sam Winchester, played by Jared Padalecki, and Ruby, played by Genevieve Padalecki, rush to stop Lilith, an ancient demon who is preparing to raise the devil Lucifer from the cage in which he’s imprisoned. Meanwhile, the angels Castiel and Zachariah tell Dean Winchester that he will play a key role in stopping Lucifer. The season ends on a cliffhanger, with Lucifer’s arrival imminent.

A woman in a red dress holds up a yellow piece of paper to Neil Patrick Harris.

20th Century Fox Television

#44. How I Met Your Mother – ‘The Final Page: Part 2’

– IMDb user rating: 9.4
– Season 8, episode 12
– Air date: Dec. 17, 2012
– Director: Pamela Fryman

At the end of “How I Met Your Mother” season eight, Barney, played by Neil Patrick Harris, tells his friend Ted that he plans to propose to his current girlfriend, Patrice. Feeling conflicted, Ted invites Barney’s on-again, off-again love interest Robin to the gala where the engagement is to take place in hopes of letting her know what is going on. Meanwhile, their friends Marshall and Lily spend their first romantic night away together after having a baby.

Matthew Fox and another man sit by a campfire at night.

Bad Robot

#43. Lost – ‘Live Together, Die Alone’

– IMDb user rating: 9.4
– Season 2, episode 23
– Air date: May 24, 2006
– Director: Jack Bender

In the two-part season two finale of “Lost,” a series of flashbacks show how mysterious figure Desmond, played by Henry Ian Cusick, arrives at the show’s central island and comes to oversee the hatch, a station that supposedly averts a worldwide catastrophe. Elsewhere, Jack and Sayid rescue young Walt from the other group of people on the island simply known as “The Others.”

A man stands on a rooftop wearing a dark red tight suit from head to toe.

ABC Studios

#42. Daredevil – ‘Daredevil’

– IMDb user rating: 9.4
– Season 1, episode 13
– Air date: April 10, 2015
– Director: Steven S. DeKnight

The season one finale of “Daredevil” follows Matt Murdock, played by Charlie Cox, as he faces off against sadistic crime boss Wilson Fisk, played by Vincent D’Onofrio, for the last time. After defeating Fisk, the New York media officially begin to call Matt’s vigilante alter ego “Daredevil.”

Kit Harington and a group of people stand in the deep snow wearing fur and thick winter clothing.

Home Box Office (HBO)

#41. Game of Thrones – ‘Valar Morghulis’

– IMDb user rating: 9.4
– Season 2, episode 10
– Air date: June 3, 2012
– Director: Alan Taylor

In “Valar Morghulis,” Stark heir Robb, played by Richard Madden, defies his arranged marriage to wed his lover, played by Oona Chaplin, while Daenerys, played by Emilia Clarke, rescues her dragons, and Lannister prince Tyrion discovers that his sister Cersei attempted to have him killed. The episode title comes from a “Game of Thrones” code phrase that means “all men must die.”

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Alan Alda and the cast from M.A.S.H. salute in army greens.

Silver Screen Collection // Getty Images

#40. M.A.S.H – ‘Abyssinia, Henry’

– IMDb user rating: 9.5
– Season 3, episode 24
– Air date: March 18, 1975
– Director: Larry Gelbart

The season three finale of “M.A.S.H.” created controversy when main character Henry Blake, played by McLean Stevenson, was surprisingly killed when his plane was shot down. At the time, virtually no main characters in American TV comedies had been abruptly killed in a tragic way. After the now-iconic episode aired, creator Larry Gelbart claimed that more than 1,000 people sent letters expressing their disappointment in the ending.

A man and woman stand with blue lights on their clothing in a dark room lit by candles.

Atlas Entertainment

#39. 12 Monkeys – ‘Witness’

– IMDb user rating: 9.5
– Season 3, episode 10
– Air date: May 21, 2017
– Director: Grant Harvey

For multiple seasons, the sci-fi time travel drama “12 Monkeys” hinged on the mystery of who was behind the destructive organization “Army of the 12 Monkeys.” The answer to this question is revealed in the show’s season three finale, as lead characters Cole, played by Aaron Stanford, and Cassie, played by Amanda Schull, travel back to 1959 and finally learn the identity of the group’s leader—known only as “The Witness.”

A man with clamps on his head in a room full of screens with two people behind him.

Marvel Studios

#38. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – ‘What We’re Fighting For’

– IMDb user rating: 9.5
– Season 7, episode 13
– Air date: Aug. 12, 2020
– Director: Kevin Tancharoen

In the series finale of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” the agents wage their final battle against the Chronicoms, a semi-robotic alien race that has stranded them in time. The creatures hope to occupy Earth by creating a new reality where S.H.I.E.L.D. never existed.

A boy with bruises on his face in front of a surprised crowd of kids.

Heald Productions (II)

#37. Cobra Kai – ‘No Mercy’

– IMDb user rating: 9.5
– Season 2, episode 10
– Air date: April 24, 2019
– Directors: Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg

“Cobra Kai,” which takes place 34 years after the events of 1984’s “The Karate Kid,” sees tensions between rival dojos led by Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso, played by Ralph Macchio, finally come to a head. This occurs during a first-day of-school showdown between two of their pupils, Robby and Miguel. However, they’re forced to temporarily put their rivalry aside when the fight unexpectedly leaves Miguel in critical condition.

An older man in an office smiling with women posing around him in 60's clothing.

Lionsgate Television

#36. Mad Men – ‘Waterloo’

– IMDb user rating: 9.5
– Season 7, episode 7
– Air date: May 25, 2014
– Director: Matthew Weiner

The mid-season finale of “Mad Men” season seven spells trouble for advertising giant Don Draper, played by Jon Hamm, who may be fired for breach of contract. Due to his precarious position, his coworker Peggy Olson, played by Elisabeth Moss, is tasked with presenting the firm’s pitch to its client Burger Chef. Meanwhile, the characters prepare to watch the first moon landing.

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A woman opening a bottle of wine with another woman on the phone next to her and a man holding wine glasses.

Outerbanks Entertainment

#35. The Vampire Diaries – ‘The Departed’

– IMDb user rating: 9.5
– Season 3, episode 22
– Air date: May 10, 2012
– Director: John Behring

“The Vampire Diaries” made a major change in its season three finale, in which human protagonist Elena (Nina Dobrev) is saved by vampire blood and begins to transition into a creature of the night. Before her transformation, Elena reflects upon her life before meeting the Salvatore vampire brothers—Damon, played by Ian Somerhalder, and Stefan, played by Paul Wesley—after losing her parents. During these flashbacks, viewers learn that Elena actually met Damon before Stefan, but he made her forget the encounter.

A man in a suit with a woman wearing a flower crown.

John Wells Productions

#34. Shameless – ‘Lazarus’

– IMDb user rating: 9.5
– Season 4, episode 12
– Air date: April 6, 2014
– Director: Mark Mylod

In the season four finale of “Shameless,” the misadventures of a dysfunctional Chicago family, the Gallaghers, continue to be explored in “Lazarus.” Fiona, played by Emmy Rossum, gets out of jail and finds a job with the help of her parole officer, while Sheila fights for custody of the five children she has recently adopted. The ending revealed the twist that Fiona’s ex-boyfriend Jimmy, played by Justin Chatwin and whose character was previously thought to be dead, is actually alive.

Claire Danes having a very serious conversation with a man.

Teakwood Lane Productions

#33. Homeland – ‘Prisoners of War’

– IMDb user rating: 9.5
– Season 8, episode 12
– Air date: April 26, 2020
– Director: Lesli Linka Glatter

Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin played CIA officer Carrie and her mentor Saul for the last time in this series finale episode. As “Homeland” ends, Saul passes his top-secret Russian asset on to Carrie, who has now fled to the country herself. Vanity Fair critic Richard Lawson noted that the episode works well because “it stripped away some of the show’s brittle context and compacted itself into a character study.”

Dominic West in a dark police uniform.

Home Box Office (HBO)

#32. The Wire – ‘Final Grades’

– IMDb user rating: 9.5
– Season 4, episode 13
– Air date: Dec. 10, 2006
– Director: Ernest R. Dickerson

“Final Grades” marks the end of “The Wire” season four, where police informant Bubbles, played by Andre Royo, becomes suicidal and enters rehab after confessing his role in his mentee Sherrod’s death. Elsewhere, policeman Lester Freamon and his colleagues search for more bodies clustered in vacant Baltimore houses.

Bill Hader standing in front of a tree looking desperate.

Alec Berg Productions

#31. Barry – ‘Starting Now’

– IMDb user rating: 9.5
– Season 3, episode 8
– Air date: June 12, 2022
– Director: Bill Hader

In the opening scene, Barry, played by Bill Hader, is shown waking up from a dream in a hospital. Barry is haunted by the sight of his possible fate in the afterlife and after arriving home from the hospital is a bit more coherent, realizing he cannot escape destiny. The finale includes a riveting twist when Barry’s girlfriend, Sally, played by Sarah Goldberg, boards a flight to Missouri, and Barry seems to evade justice until he is shown being surrounded by police. The HBO series has been renewed for a fourth season with Hader set to direct all episodes.

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Charlie Hunnam sitting on a motorcycle in a plaid shirt and leather vest.


#30. Sons of Anarchy – ‘Papa’s Goods’

– IMDb user rating: 9.5
– Season 7, episode 13
– Air date: Dec. 9, 2014
– Director: Kurt Sutter

In the “Sons of Anarchy” series finale, outlaw motorcycle club president Jax Teller, played by Charlie Hunnam, ultimately meets his demise when he purposefully crashes into a truck as several cops tail him. By doing so, he effectively ends the family legacy of criminal activity and violence associated with the club in which his father was also passionately involved. “It wasn’t a happy ending for everyone, but it definitely closed things in a way that felt right,” Diana Steenbergen wrote in her episode review for IGN.

Christian Slater in a brown ball cap looking skeptical.

Anonymous Content

#29. Mr. Robot – ‘shutdown-r’

– IMDb user rating: 9.5
– Season 3, episode 10
– Air date: Dec. 13, 2017
– Director: Sam Esmail

The third season of “Mr. Robot” ends with programmer-turned-hacker Elliot, played by Rami Malek, reversing the 5/9 hack, which a group of hackers created to destroy financial records and destabilize United States financial markets. However, the episode ends with a post-credits scene in which the drug kingpin who Elliot got arrested for abuse arrives at his apartment door after blackmailing his way out of prison.

Emilia Clarke in a flowing gown in front of a fire.

Television 360

#28. Game of Thrones – ‘Fire and Blood’

– IMDb user rating: 9.5
– Season 1, episode 10
– Air date: June 19, 2011
– Director: Alan Taylor

Much of the “Game of Thrones” season one finale concerns itself with the aftermath of Stark family patriarch Ned’s unexpected beheading in the previous episode. Arya, played by Maisie Williams, escapes from her father’s murderers, the Lannisters, although her sister, Sansa, played by Sophie Turner, is taken prisoner. After losing her husband, son, and army, Daenerys Targaryen, played by Emilia Clarke, also hatches her now-iconic dragons.

Two women standing in a bedroom, one with blood on her face.

Alloy Entertainment

#27. The Originals – ‘The Bloody Crown’

– IMDb user rating: 9.6
– Season 3, episode 22
– Air date: May 20, 2016
– Director: Matthew Hastings

During the third season finale of “The Originals,” ancient vampire Klaus is put on trial by his adoptive son Marcel, played by Charles Michael Davis, for the centuries of crimes he has committed. At the same time, the Mikaelson family’s compound is overrun by an army of “sireling” vampires that Klaus once created. Things once again end on a cliffhanger, as Klaus is tortured by an all-powerful weapon known as Papa Tunde’s blade.

A woman standing in front of a small airplane.

Your Face Goes Here Entertainment

#26. Banshee – ‘Requiem’

– IMDb user rating: 9.6
– Season 4, episode 8
– Air date: May 20, 2016
– Director: Ole Christian Madsen

In the “Banshee” series finale, ex-con Hood, played by Anthony Starr, makes plans to leave the town of Banshee, Pennsylvania, where he has hidden and posed as a sheriff. “Requiem” also revealed that the local mayor’s personal bodyguard, Clay Burton, played by Matthew Bauch, murdered Lucas’ ex-lover Rebecca, played by Lili Simmons.

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A woman holds a newborn baby.

My So-Called Company

#25. The Originals – ‘From a Cradle to a Grave’

– IMDb user rating: 9.6
– Season 1, episode 22
– Air date: May 13, 2014
– Director: Matthew Hastings

The end of the first season of “The Originals” follows Klaus, played by Joseph Morgan, and Elijah, played by Daniel Gillies, as they search for Hayley, played by Phoebe Tonkin, who is desperate to protect her and Klaus’ unborn baby from the witches who are after her. She is almost murdered immediately after giving birth to her daughter but then begins turning into a werewolf-vampire hybrid.

David Boreanaz in front of a law office sign.

Mutant Enemy

#24. Angel – ‘Not Fade Away’

– IMDb user rating: 9.6
– Season 5, episode 22
– Air date: May 19, 2004
– Director: Jeffrey Bell

In the series finale of “Angel,” the titular character, played by David Boreanaz, and his crew spend one last day with their loved ones before preparing to fight evil members of the supernatural Circle of the Black Thorn. The episode ends as the army descends upon the main characters, and swords clash as the screen fades to black. Co-creator Joss Whedon defended this ambiguous ending to TV Guide Online, saying, “The point of the show is that you’re never done; no matter who goes down, the fight goes on.”

Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jason Alexander talking to a waitress in a diner.

Shapiro/West Productions

#23. Seinfeld – ‘The Opposite’

– IMDb user rating: 9.6
– Season 5, episode 21
– Air date: May 19, 1994
– Director: Tom Cherones

In this season five finale, George, played by Jason Alexander, begins to have uncharacteristically good luck—from going on a date with a beautiful woman to landing a job with the New York Yankees—after deciding to do the opposite of what he normally does. Meanwhile, Elaine, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, gets a raise and is reunited with her boyfriend Jake, played by Marty Rackham. “Seinfeld” co-creator Larry David appears in the episode as the voice of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.

Amy Poehler and Rashida Jones hug.

Deedle-Dee Productions

#22. Parks and Recreation – ‘One Last Ride’

– IMDb user rating: 9.6
– Season 7, episode 12
– Air date: Feb. 24, 2015
– Director: Michael Schur

Lead actress Amy Poehler and “Parks and Recreation” co-creator Michael Schur wrote the show’s last episode, which serves as the 12th and 13th episodes of the final season. After many of the main characters decide to leave Pawnee, Indiana, the episode flashes forward to several points in time to show what the characters are up to in the future. Notably, it’s implied that Poehler’s character, Leslie Knope, will become president in 2048.

Sarah Michelle Gellar.

Mutant Enemy

#21. Buffy the Vampire Slayer – ‘Becoming: Part 2’

– IMDb user rating: 9.6
– Season 2, episode 22
– Air date: May 19, 1998
– Director: Joss Whedon

In the second half of the season two finale of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Buffy tries to prevent a trio of vampires from awakening the demon Acathla. During this episode, Buffy’s lover Angel is sucked into a vortex and appears to be gone indefinitely. Christopher Beck’s score for “Becoming” won a Primetime Emmy Award in 1998.

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A man and a woman stand holding onto each other in a doorway looking out.

Tall Ship Productions

#20. Outlander – ‘Dragonfly in Amber’

– IMDb user rating: 9.6
– Season 2, episode 13
– Air date: July 9, 2016
– Director: Philip John

“Dragonfly in Amber” flashes forward to 1968, where Claire, played by Caitriona Balfe, travels to Scotland with Brianna, played by Sophie Skelton, her 20-year-old daughter with Jaime, played by Sam Heughan. During the trip, Claire finally tells Brianna the truth about her time-traveling experiences, and who her father really is. Back in the 1700s, Jaime prepares for the Battle of Culloden.

Kaley Cuoco and Johnny Galecki lean in for a kiss smiling.

Chuck Lorre Productions

#19. The Big Bang Theory – ‘The Stockholm Syndrome’

– IMDb user rating: 9.6
– Season 12, episode 24
– Air date: May 16, 2019
– Director: Mark Cendrowski

The final episode of “The Big Bang Theory” follows the gang as it flies to Sweden so that Sheldon, played by Jim Parsons, and Amy, played by Mayim Bialik, can receive their Nobel prizes. Penny, played by Kaley Cuoco, also reveals that she and Leonard, played by Johnny Galecki, are expecting a child. Raj, played by Kunal Nayyar, gets the chance to meet actress Sarah Michelle Gellar.

Michael C. Hall stands over a person tied to a table.

The Colleton Company

#18. Dexter – ‘Born Free’

– IMDb user rating: 9.6
– Season 1, episode 12
– Air date: Dec. 17, 2006
– Director: Michael Cuesta

The season one finale of “Dexter” centers on Dexter, played by Michael C. Hall, and the “Ice Truck Killer’s” final confrontation. The twist comes when it’s revealed that the killer is actually Dexter’s biological brother Brian Moster, played by Chris Diamantopoulos. Dexter’s love interest Rita, played by Julia Benz, is contacted by her abusive, imprisoned ex-husband Paul, played by Mark Pellegrino, who warns her that Dexter, a vigilante serial killer, isn’t who she thinks he is.

People sit in court benches listening intently.


#17. How to Get Away With Murder – ‘Stay’

– IMDb user rating: 9.7
– Season 6, episode 15
– Air date: May 14, 2020
– Director: Stephen Cragg

In the series finale of “How to Get Away with Murder,” lawyer Annalise Keating, played by Viola Davis, is put on trial for her crimes over the course of the series, after the FBI opens an investigation into her work. At the end of the episode, Christopher, played by Alfred Enoch, the son of Laurel, played by Karla Souza, and Wes, also played by Enoch, teaches the same law class that Annalise herself taught at the beginning of the show’s pilot.

Three men in all black gear and arrows walk through the forest.

Berlanti Productions

#16. Arrow – ‘Lian Yu’

– IMDb user rating: 9.7
– Season 5, episode 23
– Air date: May 24, 2017
– Director: Jesse Warn

In the season five finale of “Arrow,” Oliver/Arrow searches for his son, William, played by Jack Moore, who has been kidnapped by his vigilante enemy, Adrian, played by Josh Segarra. Oliver recruits several unlikely allies, including Nyssa, played by Katrina Law, and Slade, played by Manu Bennett, to get his son back. It’s the last episode of the show that features a flashback storyline to Oliver’s past.

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Two men stand next to crosses in the ground, one grabbing the other by the collar.

Warner Bros. Television

#15. Supernatural – ‘Swan Song’

– IMDb user rating: 9.7
– Season 5, episode 22
– Air date: May 13, 2010
– Director: Steve Boyum

“Swan Song” revolves around brothers Dean, played by Jensen Ackles, and Sam, played by Jared Padalecki, supernatural creature hunters attempting to prevent the apocalypse through the satanic Lucifer, played by Mark Pellegrino. Eventually, Sam is able to overpower Lucifer, who was planning to possess him.

Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, David Schwimmer, and Paul Rudd stand together in a kitchen with two babies.

Warner Bros. Television

#14. Friends – ‘The Last One: Part 2’

– IMDb user rating: 9.7
– Season 10, episode 17
– Air date: May 6, 2004
– Director: Kevin Bright

In the last episode of “Friends,” on-again, off-again couple Ross, played by David Schwimmer, and Rachel, played by Jennifer Aniston, finally get together. Monica, played by Courtney Cox, and Chandler, played by Matthew Perry, prepare to move to suburbia to raise their kids. The band Pearl Jam licensed one of its songs, “Yellow Ledbetter” for the first time, and it played in “The Last One: Part 2.”

A little girl and a man wearing armor stand in the mountains.

Television 360

#13. Game of Thrones – ‘The Children’

– IMDb user rating: 9.7
– Season 4, episode 10
– Air date: June 15, 2014
– Director: Alex Graves

This “Game of Thrones” finale follows its usual ensemble cast of characters, as Tyrion, played by Peter Dinklage, escapes from prison; Stannis Baratheon, played by Stephen Dillane, and his forces help the Night’s Watch fend off the wildling people; and Bran, played by Isaac Hempstead Wright, encounters the mystical Three-Eyed Raven, played by Max von Sydow. Many fans were disappointed that the character of Lady Stoneheart didn’t appear in “The Children.”

A group of cartoon characters hold hands in a blue lit circle.

Disney Television Animation

#12. Gravity Falls – ‘Weirdmageddon 3: Take Back the Falls’

– IMDb user rating: 9.8
– Season 2, episode 20
– Air date: Feb. 15, 2016
– Director: Stephen Sandoval

The animated “Weirdmageddon 3: Take Back the Falls” centers on twins Dipper, voiced by Jason Ritter, and Mabel, voiced by Kristen Schaal, who fight to stop an apocalyptic conspiracy plot that’s unfolding within the town of Gravity Falls, Oregon. This “Gravity Falls” series finale also included Disney Channel’s first gay male couple and was Disney XD’s most-watched telecast ever at the time.

A helicopter landing on a yacht.

Gary Sanchez Productions

#11. Succession – ‘This Is Not for Tears’

– IMDb user rating: 9.8
– Season 2, episode 10
– Air date: Oct. 13, 2019
– Director: Mark Mylod

The season two finale of “Succession” revolves around the Roy family, whose members attempt to decide who to use as a public scapegoat for the sexual misconduct scandal that has jeopardized the future of their media empire. Patriarch Logan Roy, played by Brian Cox, selects his son Kendall, played by Jeremy Strong, who reveals at a press conference that his father was responsible for covering up the scandal. “This Is Not for Tears” won Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series at the 2020 Primetime Emmy Awards.

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A man looking up in a crowd of people.

Bad Robot

#10. Person of Interest – ‘Return 0’

– IMDb user rating: 9.8
– Season 5, episode 13
– Air date: June 21, 2016
– Director: Chris Fisher

In the “Person of Interest” series finale, the central characters of “Team Machine” wage one last battle to prevent the evil A.I. surveillance system Samaritan from controlling the world. They succeed in their mission, but one of their own dies in the process—Jim Caviezel’s character of Reese. Entertainment Weekly writer Chancellor Agard described the episode as “a pathos-filled and near-perfect end that focused on the show’s relationships.”

Kieran Culkin and Sarah Snook stand with their hands on Jeremy Strong, who is seated with his head in his lap.

Gary Sanchez Productions

#9. Succession – ‘All the Bells Say’

– IMDb user rating: 9.8
– Season 3, episode 9
– Air date: Dec. 12, 2021
– Director: Mark Mylod

In HBO’s season three finale of “Succession,” Shiv, Kendall, and Roman are determined to take down their billionaire cutthroat father, Logan Roy, who is the owner of the media and entertainment company RoyCo. But their plans are thwarted as they find themselves snubbed and looked on as outsiders. By the end of the episode, Logan Roy seems to have made up his mind about selling RoyCo to another company, which could jeopardize the fate of his kids and the family business.

Michael C. Hall standing in an office wearing a badge in front of a wall of blood spatter images.

John Goldwyn Productions

#8. Dexter – ‘The Getaway’

– IMDb user rating: 9.8
– Season 4, episode 12
– Air date: Dec. 13, 2009
– Director: Steve Shill

“The Getaway” throws Dexter’s secret double life into jeopardy, as Arthur, played by John Lithgow, discovers his true identity, and Debra, played by Jennifer Carpenter, learns that he and the Ice Pick Killer are brothers. However, the real shock of the hour comes when Dexter’s significant other, Rita, is unexpectedly killed. Elsewhere, the police close in on the mysterious Trinity Killer.

A man in a black suit stands on a rooftop balcony.

Warner Bros. Television

#7. Lucifer – ‘A Devil of My Word’

– IMDb user rating: 9.8
– Season 3, episode 24
– Air date: May 14, 2018
– Director: Eagle Egilsson

Much of “A Devil of My Word” centers on the team’s investigation into the Tricia Helfer character’s—reborn lawyer Charlotte Richards—recent murder. Chloe, played by Lauren German, Lucifer, played by Tom Ellis, and their allies attempt to find and bring the killer to justice, while Chloe finally learns the full truth of Lucifer’s demonic origins. Although this was supposedly the series finale, since Fox had canceled the show after season three, “Lucifer” was soon picked up by Netflix.

Jonathan Banks and Bob Odenkirk in the blazing sun in front of a water trough and windmill.

High Bridge Productions

#6. Better Call Saul – ‘Saul Gone’

– IMDb user rating: 9.8
– Season 6, episode 13
– Air date: Aug. 15, 2022
– Director: Peter Gould

In the season six finale of “Better Call Saul”—a spinoff of “Breaking Bad”—lawyer Jimmy McGill, played by Bob Odenkirk, is forced to confront the people he’s wronged. McGill, also known as Saul, is caught and sentenced. Bill Oakley, played by Peter Diseth, makes an unexpected appearance in the final episode and agrees to represent Saul, reasoning that it would be ideal for his legal street cred.

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Two cartoon characters with giant round heads flying in a purple fireball.

Cartoon Network Studios

#5. Regular Show – ‘A Regular Epic Final Battle’

– IMDb user rating: 9.9
– Season 8, episode 27
– Air date: Jan. 16, 2017
– Director: Calvin Wong

“A Regular Epic Final Battle” is the animated show’s series finale, and follows Mordecai, voiced by J.G. Quintel; Rigby, voiced by William Salyers; and their fellow park workers as they aid their friend Pops in defeating his evil twin brother, Anti-Pops, on their home planet of Lolliland. The A.V. Club critic Eric Thurm praised the episode, noting that “amid all this death and closure, there’s a lot of humor.”

Michael C. Hall, Lauren Ambrose and James Cromwell sit at the hospital bed of Frances Conroy.

Home Box Office (HBO)

#4. Six Feet Under – ‘Everyone’s Waiting’

– IMDb user rating: 9.9
– Season 5, episode 12
– Air date: Aug. 21, 2005
– Director: Alan Ball

The series finale of this show about a dysfunctional family who run a funeral home ironically centers not on a death but on the premature birth of Nate, played by Peter Krause, and Willa, the daughter of Brenda, portrayed by Rachel Griffiths. “Everyone’s Waiting” ends with a series of flash-forward shots to important milestones in the characters’ lives, as Claire decides to leave Los Angeles. The episode received multiple Emmy nominations in 2006, including Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series.

Bryan Cranston and Bob Odenkirk stand in front of a dilapidated stucco and wood home.

High Bridge Productions

#3. Breaking Bad – ‘Face Off’

– IMDb user rating: 9.9
– Season 4, episode 13
– Air date: Oct. 9, 2011
– Director: Vince Gilligan

Before landing in the drug trade, Walter White, played by Bryan Cranston, was once a respected chemist. In the season four finale of “Breaking Bad,” White has endangered several people—from taking a bomb into a pediatric hospital to starting a fire in a crowded laundromat. In this finale, Gus, played by Giancarlo Esposito—the series’ antagonist—was caught in an explosion that blew half of his face off, resulting in the episode’s title, “Face Off.”

Bryan Cranston, looking disheveled, holding a gun.

High Bridge Productions

#2. Breaking Bad – ‘Felina’

– IMDb user rating: 9.9
– Season 5, episode 16
– Air date: Sept. 29, 2013
– Director: Vince Gilligan

In “Breaking Bad’s” series finale, anti-hero Walter White delivers the money from his illegal drug empire to his family, gets revenge on the gang who threatened them, and accepts his impending death from cancer. The ending was followed by a spinoff Netflix movie, “El Camino,” in 2019. Many outlets, such as Digital Trends, Screen Rant, and Rolling Stone, have named “Felina” as one of the greatest TV finales of all time.

A woman in a crown stands next to a man with blood on his forehead in a crowd.

Television 360

#1. Game of Thrones – ‘The Winds of Winter’

– IMDb user rating: 9.9
– Season 6, episode 10
– Air date: June 26, 2016
– Director: Miguel Sapochnik

“Winds of Winter” is perhaps best known for its reveal that Jon Snow, played by Kit Harrington, is not illegitimate, but Lyanna Stark’s son and a Targaryen by birth. Elsewhere, Cersei Lannister, played by Lena Headey, enacts her plan to kill her immediate enemies by destroying the Great Sept of Baelor with wildfire. This “Game of Thrones” finale was praised as one of the show’s best episodes, becoming one of the only TV episodes to ever receive a 9.9 rating on IMDb.

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